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San Francisco, CA, USA

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Maria Yuhas 4, Us 2, San Francisco 2, Yuhas 2, Mt 2, San Francisco City 2, Luxor 1, Wheelchairs 1, Sfmta 1, Etc. 1, Medallion 1, Murray 1, Jarvis Murray 1, Mr. Murray 1, Van 1, Mr. Morris 1, Hale 1, Maria 1, Mr. Lewis 1, Mrs. Yuhas 1,
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  SFGTV2    [untitled]  

    February 13, 2013
    8:00 - 8:30pm PST  

>> welcome back for the february 13th, 2013, board of appeals, we are calling number six, 12-157. maria yuhas, appealing the position on the 90 day suspension on-ramp taxi medallion no 9038. it is on for today and the agents that seven minutes to present the case. >> good evening, commissioners, my name is jacob masel and i represent maria yuhas on this manner. i am with the cab company here in the city of san francisco.
and i really hope that we are not going to meet together and just we could settle that quietly. i will try to make my point and be successful in that. back in 94, there was medallions, they were created sort of for the disabled community and i think that it was the right step. it started with a very small number and then expanded up to 100. and, the task was to serve wheelchair-bound people and give them a priority, so to speak, when there is a choice
for the cab driver who to pick up, the wheelchair customer obviously would go first. back, this is the taxi cab, regulations dated back to 2000. and throughout all regulations, that consumed ramp or wheelchair accessible minivans it said, if available from the services, it is desirable to have the wheelchair pick ups, that was back in 2000. it was... this number three wheelchair pick up was adopted way back then because we did not have in san francisco, an
entire mini fleet that could deal and pick up those wheel-chair bound users, there was not that many vehicles in san francisco city that served the community. and there was a lot of changes since then, the 100 wheelchair capable taxi cabs, and every single muni bus is adopable or available, or able to pick up those wheelchair people beside hundreds and hundreds of dollars, buses that serve the community, my point here is when san francisco city took over in 2009 from the taxi commission, a lot of things
changed. no umbudsman that insists between the city and which is huge on its own, and when sfmt came out with the draft or memorandum back at the end of 2011, i immediately expressed my opinion about that to the sfmtstaff saying that this is just illogical, you can't regulate something which is random. taxi cab van, even though it is a van is not a bus that has a certain route and has a schedule given to the driver who to pick up and what time. i know this vehicle from inside out and i sit to it and i sit next to it and i often accept those phone calls and i monitor
what is going on and i also drive. and i mean this is a random job, based upon many factors, the experience, the qualification and the month, the time of date and so forth. i don't think that this rule can apply to the taxi cab drivers. maria yuhas is a known and bonefide driver to 20 years, and it is a fact that she never had a single complaint from the public before the police department, taxi commission and sfmt, say that she refused to conveyor something, from mr. lewis admission to me, he stated that he knows that she is driving and she would pick up anything that moves,
including wheelchairs. and this is exactly what maria is doing. we can't measure wait someone's loyal ship. >> mt came out with this recommendation of what to do or how to work. well it is a sort of double-edged sword or a two-way ... you can't... you can't... the taxi cab drivers are independent contractors. you can't tell them how to work or what to do between 4:00 a.m. or 4:00 p.m. and at the same time, telling them that listen, you should go to this place and that places and that is exactly what she was doing. she would start the shift driving by hospitals and if there is a fare available she picks up, if not she moves on. she often goes to the airports. she was going to the medallion
granted in 2008 and was stayed with the program as a mandatory term for three years. she applied according to the law to transfer or exchange her medallion for the regular one and mta had plenty opportunities to exchange it for the regular one. instead they chose to go to the more profitable way and sell those available medallions. i think that this is a sort of a collection, collective punishment when the owner of the ramp taxi cab medallion is responsible for the performance not just themselves but also driving the cab for the rest of the shifts. i believe that i petition you
members of the boards that you how do i say it? that you restore mrs. yuhas's ability to drive without any suspensions. >> i don't know how you can suspend them... >> your time is up. the bell rang and you will have the opportunity to continue on rebuttal. >> i have a question for you, when did miss yuhas affiliate with town? >> since 2009. >> okay. >> mr. murray?
>> good evening, commissioners, jarvis murray sfmta, division of taxis and accessible services. i want to say that it is correct that he points out that the taxis don't have a route or a schedule that they follow. that is exactly why our para transit program has been so successful because they have a greater ease of access to the community. she has had this permit since 2008, and as he stated to have a ramp medallion permit, you must give priority to wheelchair customers. we only have 100 of these vehicles. so our emphasis has been on serving the disabled community with the 100 vehicles. you can do, you can drive around and do all of the other things, but when you get that ramp call or when there is a
ramp available, or someone who needs a wheelchair vehicle, you go to that person to take that call. a current code says that you have to have eight wheelchair pick ups a month and that is two a week, and you have a ramp medallion that operates 7 days a week, 365 days a year. in order to get that ramp permit, the driver has to demonstrate that they were able to pick up 156 wheelchair customers the year prior to obtain the permit which she was able to do with the way bills. to suddenly go from 13 a month to say that it is virtually impossible to find a wheelchair customer we find that disengenuos. our program has been effective in doing this. we do still have some medalon
holders that don't follow the law and we have some that have done very well. it is a matter of how much priority you want to give to that disabled population. the rule is clear cut and one of the reasons, frankly that our industry is so afraid of technology is that now we can track this down. before, we would have to go through way bill and everyone's way bill and you wrote down a wc and we have to take your word for it and make a few phone calls and see what happened. now, with the para transit program because it is all completely automated and they use a debit card including our wheelchair customers we know who got into a vehicle, when they got into that vehicle and where they went and how much they paid for it. now we are able to track and we picked up 0 wheelchair customers or you picked up 54 wheelchair customer and now we can track that and this is one of the reasons that many in our
industris that been afraid of that technology because now we are able to enforce the standards that were on the books before but no one was able to truly enforce without looking at the hand records that were produced by the driver themselves. >> what we want to do and demonstrate to our drivers and to our medallion holders is simply that, the days of simply driving and doing whatever you feel like are done. what we now want you to focus on is actually serving the public. no more coming in and say, well, it is so busy here, well it is not busy enough. now we are saying, no. now we know what you are doing. now we want you to track people. now we want you to pick them up. we know that you are sitting down at the airport all day in a ramp vehicle and you are not going to come out to the city and pick up wheelchair customers. well the business is so slow, now we are able to track that.
now we are able to see what you can and can't do and that is what we are trying to get our wheelchair customer to do. focus on disabled community. that is what they are there for and if that is not what they want to do, they can turn the permit in and give it back to us and we could find another way to use it. because it is not that the rides are not out there, they are, and we found typically that the more pressure that we put on the ramp medallion holders the vast majority have found a way to comply, despite the fact that the first glance is that there is not enough business out there and we don't get the calls. once they get the suspension notice and citations, suddenly they found the calls. and that is what we want to impart to you miss yuhas has not given the indication that she is going to improve the service or that there are more rides than were stated. that is what we want to happen.
we want to say that now you are a business and this is how you make money. find ways to improve the service, finds way to contract with a hospital. find ways to get regular customers. know who is where, know who is when. you know, this is what we are asking them to do and we don't think that it is too much to ask them to do that. and what we have done, we have done it progressively, we started off with warning letters, we let you know that we were going to do this, we issued citation number one, and kept going. citation number two, paid it, and number three, paid it and kept going. finally, enough is enough. you are not picking up, do you even care about this permit? we have issued a suspension, assuming that the conduct keeps going where they will not comply. we have done the progression discipline and everything that we can for you to begin in earnest serving the disabled community. we are going to ask the board to up hold our suspension and keep it for the 90 days and we
are hoping that miss yuhas becomes successful in picking up our wheelchair customers. thank you. >> i have a question, just for my edification, what are the disincentives from your perspective for them not to pick up someone who needs a ramp taxi like from para transit or a wheelchair person? >> the disadvantage to the driver? >> yeah, why would someone not do it from your perspective? >> they won't do it, for several reasons. for example, and a lot of it perception, more than anything else. so there is not i can't verify the accuracy, but this is the things that we are often told. one is, they feel like they are not going very far, the rides are too short. they would rather service the airport, because their vehicles are larger than everyone elses so they hold a lot of luggage, a lot of them will service the
airport because they can take the family back to the hotel and that is a $50 ride verses the $10 ride that they are going to get with a para transit. secondly it is a while chair customer and so it takes a little more time, much like the muni bus it has to stop and have the customer get on and the same for a ramp taxi, you have to stop, strap them in and, make sure that you strap them in appropriately so they are not going to move around or fall. it is going to take you extra time. they are not going to get in and get out, have you to help. you actually have to get out and help them. and you know that is also a little bit different. so that will take them a little bit, you know, an extra five to seven minutes and maybe they think that i could have two rides in that time period. perhaps not. >> okay. that is typically what it is. >> thank you. >> just to clear up one thing, in your brief you talk about the changes in technology and
you mentioned earlier tonight that the debit card allows you to track fares, locations, etc. the way that somebody calls for a ramp taxi is still the old way of calling the companies? >> yes. it is still the old way, they are calling the telephone dispatch. i can say that we are working on creating an app, for the general public. that will allow them to hale the taxis as opposed to waiting. we are looking at something that they can see them on the map much like the ones that exist for the limo. but as of right now, as of today, the best way is to call or attempt to make a reservation or something of that sort with the taxi company itself. >> and the distribution of ramp medallions, is there a large percentage of them affiliated with the existing companies? >> well they are all required
to be affiliated with a company. so we only have 100 of the ramp taxi vehicles and we do have a handful of maybe, two or three ramp vehicles that are not necessarily ramp medallions, it is just drivers who are doing well they decided to maintain the vehicle and keep it going. i know that there are two that still do it because they had a large, stable of clients that they continually kept using and decided to keep the vehicle even though they did not have to. >> is there a distribution of these affiliations towards the larger companies? >> not necessarily. i can tell you, i mean just distribution wise, luxor which is one of the larger companies has the majority of the ramp vehicle, probably 40 percent, and the rest are scattered throughout. yellow which is the larger company does not have as many, i think that we have ten of those vehicles. town, i think has about four or five. there is our smaller companies,
comfort has one and it is a three or four cab company and they have one. american has one or two. so each company, it is scattered throughout. >> okay. >> are these city-owned vehicles? >> no. >> they are not? >> they are not city-own vehicles, they are owned by the company or the driver. >> okay, got it, thanks. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> it there any public comment on this item? >> seeing no public comment, then you have three minutes of rebuttal. >> i want to rebuttal. what mr. morris said. january in 2012 there was a huge shortage of drivers throughout the fleet and so many shifts were not fulfilled on the wheelchair accessible vans, it was to have a special certificate. number one, lots of... i don't
know why, but mta it tries to beat transit, using in the public against the cash or the credit card paying public. i attached to my brief an exchange, the e-mail exchange that i had between us and the (inaudible) we met them here. we give them a ride and then in a few days, we took them back to the airport. they were obviously paying cash. or credit cards. when the people forget those or misplace those cards and the rides are given for free. i mean the drivers don't charge them just so that they can have this. also, people forget their four number and the name when the driver asks for the evidence of the cab drivers.
you know? there is no facts that maria yuhas has ever refused to pick up anybody, ever. >> the town taxi historically has that many calls, we have four minivans and three, and we got two more. and so when we have a call coming into the dispatch for the wheelchair accessible van. if i have at least half an hour, we have almost 100 percent success rate. again, maria is completing her two years mandatory staying with the program, petition amt to exchange the medallion and they denied and she bought another vehicle for $30,000 and she is a mother of two small kids and working hard. i think that this is a crime
without punishment. i believe that again, we all have our own level of entrepreneurship and i don't see what maria has done to deserve those fines and also the suspension. i think ultimately, they have to make a living, if there is available wheelchair accessible call, she will go or someone else will go and pick them up, or if she see them on the street if not they will move on, they will go to the airport and do whatever to make an earning. again these people have no benefits, no pensions, no salary. whatever they make after making the gasoline and so forth, they will take home. thank you. >> thank you. >> sir, another question. in your brief you mentioned that one of the potentially
mitigating circumstances is that miss yuhas is now affiliated with town. >> i forgot to mention that she was supported to have by sfmt, i don't want to use the harsh word, she gave up the independentcy after so many years where she sold her van, taxi cab to us and she is now works as a driver so to speak and since that happened, back in september, 15th, four medallion, her taxi cab was needing the... (inaudible) it is just a step away from the first plan. you can't regulate something that is random. again, there is no... there is no route and no guarantee pick ups. >> i understand that. we have heard you say that already. but the other point that, she was affiliated with you since
09 weren't your company sending ramp calls to her? >> she works at night, she is a night driver, she starts at 4:30, 5:00. i would say that 80 percent of the business for the wheelchair-bound people are from 8:00, 7:30 in the morning until 5:00. and besides, you know, later years, the competition is huge. back five or six or seven years ago there was not so many van buses that served the community. it is just these more presence in the state that is designed for this purpose >> okay. >> mt cannot produce a certification that maria has 20 years career ever, or refuse to conveyor refuse to pick anybody up.
>> thank you. >> mr. murray. >> just to clarify. the pick-ups are for the vehicle itself, miss yuhas is the medallion holder. it is so much that miss yuhas must find the pick ups, it is that her vehicle, 9038 must have the pick ups she is the responsible party because she is the medallion holder. there is a lot of leeway there, even if she is a night driver and it is difficult to get a ride, she has drivers on her vehicle that operate it during the day or during the weekends or during the afternoons. and it is her permit. so it is encumbent upon her as the medallion holder to insure that these pick-ups are being done. so the argument that she is a
night driver is again, it is disengenous because we are asking for eight pick ups for the vehicle, we are not saying that you pick up eight by yourself. we are saying at least get eight on this vehicle and you know, we will be satisfied with that. so that is what we are asking them to do. and because she is a medallion holder she is responsible. again, i keep hearing that this is difficult and that it is hard and that there is competition, but it is a business. and it is not that difficult. and yes, there is sometimes competition. but that is great. that means that you have to work a little bit harder sometimes to get those rides. and i actually don't think that they are working that hard sometimes to get these rides. but the point being that to stand up and say that it is so hard, yet when you are pressed, you find a way, because it is
another way of just saying that i actually don't really want to try to do this, this is not where my emphasis is. so now we are reaching a point where we have drivers who whereas before maybe they hear that radio call and say, yeah, i am not going to answer that. i will let somebody else take care of that. whereas now with our wheelchair or our ramp drivers they can listen to that and go, if i don't take that there is a chance that i will not be able to driver this vehicle any more and so now they are taking it and the only way to get the perceptions to change from the drivers who are hesitate to pick up the wheelchair customer to get used to the idea that they are no different than ne other customer. our wheelchair customers should not have to make special arrangements all of the time to get a taxi. >> you have to call three days ahead, no, that is why we have the taxis on the street to service you so that you don't have to do this. you can make th